When I attended the ISSCC Annual Meeting a couple of weeks ago, I was impressed of the scale and energy at the conference. No one impressed me more than Dr. Ken Smith.
Ken is professor emeritus from the University of Toronto, where he was Chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering from 1976 to 1981. Over his career, Smith published more than 150 scientific papers, with an impact on thousands of students. One of those graduate students was Dr. Adel Sedra.
This led to a successful partnership with what is considered the bible of transistor circuit designs, “Micro-Electronic Circuits.” Now in its 7th Edition from Oxford University Press, more than one million copies have sold in ten languages. Over the past 30 years, there have been times when it has outsold the Oxford University edition of the King James Bible. When your publisher tells you that you are outselling their edition of the bible, then you know you are on to something.
The book helps students analyze and design electronic circuits (both analog and digital) with strong emphasis placed on transistor circuit design. Although the circuits field is rapidly changing, and is moving from transistors to integrated circuits, much of the original pedagogy from the earlier editions still applies. Both authors feel that it is important for students to have this foundation in transistors to better understand what is happening with integrated circuits.
When I spoke with Ken at the conference, he told me that the book has found a receptive audience with the smaller colleges and universities. “In many cases, they don’t have the resources of the larger institutions. They find the sample questions and solutions to be very useful to their curriculum.”
When I was in the classroom, I would talk to the students about the importance of not taking shortcuts – Ken Smith, Ph.D.
There was so much demand that Ken published a supplemental volume in 1998, “KC’s Problems and Solutions for MicroElectronic Circuits.” This book focuses primarily on problems and solutions of varying degrees of difficulty, to help facilitate self-study. These supplemental questions have been integrated into the newest addition.
We talked about students today and all of the technology that is available to them– which is both a good and a bad thing. “Of course, you always have those who want to take shortcuts or don’t want to do the hard work. Some call it ‘cooperation’ but really it is a form of cheating. When I was in the classroom, I would talk to the students about the importance of not taking shortcuts – what does that mean for them once they leave the University?”
Although he is not in the classroom every day, at 82 years old, Ken is still active in the solid state circuit field, providing bits of inspiration and delight to whomever he meets. I look forward to shaking his hand when he releases the 8th edition.